There’s nothing less than a chance at history on the line for the Seattle Sounders when they attempt to win a fourth-straight US Open Cup title on Wednesday (9 pm ET, GolTV).
They are well aware.
“Like I’ve said before a number of times, it’s not just good enough for us to be there this time,” said Sounders midfielder Brad Evans, one of eight players who has played on all four Cup squads. “It’s something that we haven’t taken for granted. We’ve taken this tournament very serious. The Open Cup has been good to us. We’ll be away from home in a warm, crazy atmosphere, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”
Just one other team has even managed to get to four straight US Open Cup finals, but that was in 1937 and accomplished under very different circumstances. During the MLS era of the tournament, no other team has even won it twice in a row or even made it to three straight finals.
Even looking beyond the United States, no team in England, France, Germany or Italy has won four straight domestic cups and only a handful have managed to make it to four consecutive finals. Athletic Bilbao are the last team to win four straight Spanish Copas del Rey, and that was done from 1930-33.
The Sounders, meanwhile, have managed to go 15-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 38-10 over four years to get to this point. Numbers nothing short of mind-boggling considering the one-and-done nature of the competition.
“I know the Open Cup is sometimes considered a secondary trophy, but you have to remember it's a big game,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It's a game where it's a knockout competition. I think that ... in our fourth season in a knockout competition, we haven't lost a game.
WATCH: Sounders ready for fourth straight cup
“When you have a bad day, a guy could get a cold at a wrong time, you can run into a hot goalkeeper, there are all kinds of things that can happen and we've been able to get through all those hurdles. The game against San Jose this year was a good example of that, where it was just reach down and gut check, and the guys did it.”
And while no one equates winning this tournament to the MLS Cup, a step Seattle hope to remedy this year after a few early playoff exits, the Sounders certainly appreciate the US Open Cup’s unique importance.
“It would be something special to be a part of because when you're done you want to leave a legacy,” Sounders forward Eddie Johnson said. “You want to look back and say, 'Oh, I was a part of this team when they did this.' There's a lot of professional athletes around the world that played for many years, made some good money in their careers, but haven't won anything. You want to be remembered when you're done because people forget about you real quick. ... It's special.”